A monthslong campaign to raise compensation for in-store grocery workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic made a breakthrough this week.
The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union and Stop & Shop have jointly announced that a so-called “hero pay” premium would be retroactively applied for 5,600 UFCW-represented workers at the chain, which is Ahold Delhaize USA’s largest U.S. banner.
The agreement will provide retroactive premium pay—in the form of lump sum payments equal to 10% of all hours worked between July 5 and Aug. 22—to recognize their ongoing efforts to ensure communities have access to the food and supplies they need as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Wage premiums swept the industry beginning in March after volumes exploded, with grocery stores overwhelmed with a sudden need for labor to stock and serve customers as well as those willing to risk their own health during the crisis. But many of those agreements, installed on a temporary basis, have since sunsetted.
The UFCW has led a vocal campaign to reinstate them ever since.
“Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in the U.S. in March, UFCW members and Stop & Shop workers have gone above and beyond to ensure that our stores have remained open to serve our communities’ essential needs. These workers have risen to the challenge and Stop & Shop deeply appreciates everything they have done in difficult circumstances—at work and at home—as they care for their neighbors and their families during a national crisis,” UFCW International President Marc Perrone and Stop & Shop President Gordon Reid, said in a joint statement Sept. 25.
“Working in partnership when the pandemic began to take hold, UFCW International and UFCW local unions together with Stop & Shop offered union members a temporary premium. When that pay raise expired in July, the UFCW local unions and members asked Stop & Shop to do what is right for grocery workers and UFCW members.
“Today, UFCW and Stop & Shop are proud to announce a tentative agreement has been reached on a new premium that recognizes Stop & Shop workers for their incredible efforts. The UFCW wants to acknowledge Stop & Shop for not only recognizing its workers, but for remaining committed to work with UFCW, America’s largest food and retail union, to better the lives of these dedicated workers and their families,” the statement continued. “Today’s agreement is a further testament that by negotiating in good faith, Stop & Shop and UFCW have been able to achieve a real victory that is shared by the company, its customers, these communities, and the grocery workers who continue to serve.”
The new agreement, which also represents further healing from a costly strike in 2019, includes the following:
- 56,000 union Stop & Shop associates represented by UFCW will receive retroactive premium pay in the form of lump sum payments equal to 10% of all hours worked between July 5 and Aug. 22.
- The retroactive premium pay excludes any paid time off accrued in this time period and does not apply to any employees represented by UFCW local unions currently engaged in contract negotiations with the company.
- Additionally, Stop & Shop has agreed to observe a moment of silence on Labor Day and Workers Memorial Day, starting in 2021, to recognize both the front-line workers lost to COVID-19 and the collective strength that union membership has provided to its associates.